Unto every person there is a name: Holocaust remembered in Israel

Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked by a series of events, the most well-known of which is the air raid siren.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin each laid a wreath at a Yad Vashem ceremony honoring Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, which took place on Thursday.

They also participated in the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony, which is held every year on Yom Hashoah at the Knesset. Names of Holocaust victims are read aloud during the ceremony by Israeli officials.

The ceremony’s title comes from the poem “Unto Every Person There is a Name, Bestowed on him by his Father and Mother,” written by Zelda (1914 – 1984). It was first held in 1989, at the initiative of then-Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky.

Netanyahu said at the ceremony, “The desire to commemorate the deceased is embedded deep in human nature. This ceremony gives clear expression to this because the desire to commemorate is underscored in our people, which lost millions of our brothers and sisters in the Holocaust.”

Rivlin noted that for many years he came to the ceremony with his recently departed wife Nechama. He said that since the last year of her life, when her health did not permit her to come, he has taken upon himself to read the names of her family members who perished in the Holocaust, on her behalf.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked by a series of events, the most well-known of which is the siren. Air raid sirens sound across the state, bringing the country to a standstill as even cars on highways slow to a stop and drivers clamber out to stand at attention for two minutes to honor those killed in the Holocaust.

This year’s events are held under the title “Until the Very Last Jew: Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation,” which focuses on the June 1941 German attack on the Soviet Union.

“Operation Barbarossa was a milestone in World War II and a turning point in the fate of the Jews,” Yad Vashem says on its website.

“At the rear of the German Army in the war in the USSR were the Einsatzgruppen, four mobile killing units of the SS that were tasked with the war on ‘ideological threats’—Communists, partisans and Jews…

“Starting early in August 1941, however, the circle of murder gradually expanded to encompass broad swathes of territory and all of the Jews in the occupied areas — men, women and children — except for a small number who were assigned to perform forced labor,” Yad Vashem’s statement said.

The national day of mourning began on Wednesday evening at Yad Vashem. Netanyahu used the opportunity to speak of the danger from Iran, drawing a link between the Nazis’ attempt to annihilate the Jews and the Islamic Republic’s stated goal to follow in their footsteps.